Sebastian Jung

Rules of the Game

New rules of the game?

Nicolaus Schafhausen

The more obscure the rules of a game are, the more difficult it is for new players to understand them.

With the exhibition Spielregeln [Rules of the Game] at gallery KM, artist Sebastian Jung examines the art market as a mirror of our society. He interrogates himself in the role of the new player in relation to the unwritten rules of the game.

Sebastian Jung’s artistic rhetoric is that of the observer. In recent years, he has emerged primarily through analytical observations that, through minimalist drawings and publications, steadily expand his activist commitment to a populism against hate. With an aesthetic fragility, he juxtaposes the contemporary politics of right-wing populist movements in Germany, focused on emotionalization. He shapes his work with a subjective view of a socio-political environment, countering the simplistic images of populist codes with his own as well as others’ analyses. The artist often initiates interdisciplinary projects in collaboration with representatives from politics, popular culture, literature, or science. Art institutions also appreciate his approach because as an artist, he can uncover new perspectives that do not necessarily coincide with the institution’s stance. However, the relationships between galleries and artists follow different rules than those of institutions. Can such a strategy, based on the observations of a non-conformist, find its forum in the art market system? For the artist, is art itself already a game that follows unwritten rules in order to politically intervene in world events?

Jung’s works question the sensitivities, gestures, and attitudes of our society. In the case of this exhibition, the rules of the game are those of the art market. In addition to systemic questions, the emotional state of the actors is also negotiated. His hastily captured documentation of those art fair visitors who, as the title suggests, are driven by profit, seem naïve. The minimalist drawing style reflects these states of mind in a quick-witted manner. In this way, the question of whether art is about l’art pour l’art or about power, which can never be conclusively clarified, is mirrored almost humorously. Art has to acquiesce to the question of these standards while remaining capable of enduring them. Jung’s unusual way of approaching the art market with such a project, its deviation and difference, can be understood as a resource that questions the far-reaching perspectives of the rules of the art market game.

Jung is concerned with the circumstances that surround us all and in which we all participate. Thus, it is not only about the rules of the game in the art business, but also about questioning playing in general. Jung aims at all of us as players, bringing those unwritten rules into focus, and observing the mentality of manipulation within a system. There is nothing paradoxical about this.